A History of Intergroup Relations Research

Authored by: John F. Dovidio , Anna-Kaisa Newheiser , Jacques-Philippe Leyens

Handbook of the History of Social Psychology

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9781848728684
eBook ISBN: 9780203808498
Adobe ISBN: 9781136668999


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Because of psychology’s traditional emphasis on the individual, the study of intergroup relations did not capture the sustained interest of the field until the 1930s. This chapter chronicles the history of the social psychology of intergroup relations, considering systematic social and political influences on the academic development of this scholarly topic. The chapter reviews, chronologically and intellectually, the development of the study of intergroup relations within psychology, from early work demonstrating the extensiveness of intergroup bias to the field’s emphasis on the psychopathology of bias and then on normative influences, and finally on the ubiquity, and potential “normality,” of intergroup bias. We discuss how North American and European intellectual traditions influenced different perspectives on intergroup relations. We conclude by suggesting how current developments in the field generally and within social psychology in particular may shape research on this topic in the future.

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